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GEOG 100: Course Guide (Victoria): Using Sources

Summarizing, Paraphrasing & Quoting

A summary is a condensed version of information from another source. Summaries usually highlight the main points discussed in a source.

When you summarize:

  • Keep your summary brief. Summaries should be much shorter than the original source.
  • Stick to just the main points.
  • Make sure your summary is in your own words.

A paraphrase is a restatement of another author's ideas in your own words. 

When you paraphrase:

  • First read the original passage a few times to make sure you understand what the author is saying. 
  • Change both the sentence structure and the words used.
  • Avoid switching out words with synonyms as this can create unnatural sounding sentences.
  • Reread your paraphrased passage to make sure you are accurately expressing the original author's points.
  • Make sure the paraphrased sentence reads smoothly and makes sense.

​When taking notes, try to paraphrase important passages immediately, rather than writing down direct quotes. Students often forget that what they have written down is a quote, and this can lead to unintentional plagiarism.

Quotes are a word-for-word copy of what another author said.

When you quote:

  • Make sure quotes are contained in "quotation marks."
  • Make sure you don't over-rely on quotes! Your paper should mostly be your own original ideas. Use quotes only to illustrate your point.
  • Use quotes from experts, not from unreliable sources
  • If you have to change a word within a quotation, put the changed word in square brackets.

General Tips

  • Your research paper needs to provide a balance between outside sources and your own original ideas. 

  • When you paraphrase, summarize or quote another author, their ideas should be connected to your own.

See OWL Purdue's sample summary, paraphrase and quotation from an essay to get a better sense of how you can use sources in your own paper. 

Signal Phrases

  • Use signal phrases to introduce a paraphrase, summary or quotation, such as "according to," "argues," "contends,"or "states."

After a quotation, summary or paraphrase, explain why the source is significant or how the idea relates to your own argument.

Assignment Calculators

These time management tools will help you break down your assignment into manageable steps, and create schedules for you to follow so you can complete your assignment on time!